The New Year is upon us and your business made a resolution to integrate social media into its marketing plan. Well done - Your business has plenty to gain from embracing social media. But whether you manage your business' Facebook and Twitter pages or you delegate the task to an employee, it is important to understand that the voice of your company will be reflected through these social media platforms. How do you want potential customers to view your business? Answer the question and then craft a social media policy to make sure your business stays on track.
A social media policy can protect your business' reputation
A social media policy is a plan to protect your business from endangering itself online. It consists of points that should be followed by employees so your business can present itself in a positive light. In 2010, a waitress was fired for making negative comments about a specific couple who she had waited on. The waitress' comments were made on Facebook and as a result, she lost her job. Another woman was fired from a non-profit organization after her employers discovered she owned a sex blog. These cases can severely hurt your business' reputation. Therefore, it is important to have a social media policy in place and to make sure your employees are abiding by it.
Crafting a social media policy
When producing a social media policy for your business, make sure to include these concepts:
• Business and personal usage apply: When employees sign with your company, they should be aware that what they post on their personal accounts can also tarnish the company's reputation. Your business can't tell them how to run their personal lives, but make it a point in the social media policy that any personal blog or affiliation that can potentially hurt your business' reputation will be evaluated.
• Handling problems internally: The policy should discuss the importance of handling problems internally before expressing their problems online. Make employees understand that they may come to you (or HR) with any problem(s) they may have so that your reputation stays protected online.
• Existing company policies apply: A great thing to include in your social media policy is your company's existing policies. Harassment, discrimination and racism guidelines should also apply to online content. Make sure employees understand that these rules apply physically and digitally.
• Protected information: Client information MUST be protected. Company information such as finances should also be protected. Make sure this is stated in your business' social media policy so that employees know what company information is ‘fair game.'
• Appropriate content: Do your employees understand what's appropriate to blog or talk about online? What is the appropriate language? Employees must understand what's appropriate and what's not. Furthermore, speaking ill of competitors should not be tolerated.
• Hold employees accountable: In the policy, your employees must understand that what they post is a representation of your business. Explain to employees that they will be held accountable for any content that harms the business' reputation.
• Understandable social media goals and roles: Explain in the policy what it is exactly your business is looking to achieve on the social media spaces. Then explain to your team how their roles will be influential in achieving those goals. Your social media team should understand the purpose of posting for your business.
• Trusting and open, but still monitoring: You want your business' social media team to feel comfortable posting for your business. So after explaining the social media policy to them, trust them to create great content that won't hurt the company. But having someone monitoring what is being said about your business can ensure that the voice of your company is a positive one. Let your team know that your business intends on monitoring social media content.
The point of a social media policy is to protect your business from any harmful actions your employees may take online. At the same time, your business should convey openness and trust in your employees' ability to positively represent your business.
Does your business have a social media policy? Have you faced any issues? Please let us know in the comments below.